Monopoly Here & Now: World Edition

Date Wed, December 31 2008

One of our Christmas presents to ourselves is Monopoly Here and Now: World Edition. It’s a global take on the Here and Now game which had modern, American pieces and themes like Starbucks, Motorola and McDonalds. The world edition includes pieces like a dragon and kangaroo while you can buy properties like Paris and Rome. It is also an electronic version complete with “calculator.” There is no cash in this version, which seems like a good idea but actually has its downfalls.

The game isn’t deluxe in any manner although the box does have trays for the “debit” Cards, properties, Chance/Community Chest cards and other pieces. Each game comes with 6 random playing pieces. Our included the dragon, kangaroo and a South American “mask” which were all cool. The back of the box lists all possible pieces including an Egyptian pharaoh mask, a baseball glove and ball, a pretzel, a bull fighter, a windmill and a camel. I would say the majority of the pieces are pretty interesting so no one has to be stuck being the shoe or iron.

Instead of dealing out money, the banker hands out debit cards which are designated by colour. Each card starts with 15million Monopoly dollars. The antes are high in this version with even the poorest properties costing in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and watch out if you land on a dark blue property with buildings: it will cost you millions. So what sound like a lot is proportionate when considering the new inflated prices of Here and Now World edition.

Game play is the same. The properties are arranged the same and have the same colours, except for Taipei and Gydnia which are brown. They are the cheapest properties right after passing Go. In older versions, these were a dark purple but brown seems to be the new standard because we’d looked at a couple games at Wal-mart and these properties were all brown.

Everyone is familiar with the railroads which have become Monopoly Air, Space, Rail and Cruise. The utilities also have a modern update. Rather than Electric and Water company, you can own Wind and Solar Energy. I was rather fond of that.

The Chance and Community Chest Cards are changed. For instance, you might have to

Pay $150K to have all 32 capsules on the London Eye washed and polished.

The cards also have interesting trivia on them about the topics mentioned, in this case, the London Eye.

The real change is which the “calculator” which really isn’t. While, it doesn’t seem to help you do a lot of math, it does help you keep track of your funds. Well, sort of. Anytime a person has to pay either the bank or another person, you use the calculator. If it’s your turn to pay, your debit card goes in the red negative slot. If you’re owed money from the bank (or another person), slip your card into the green positive slot (and the other person’s into the red).

It’s easy enough to understand but I wasn’t sure how to start the game. Really, all you do is insert a card or press a button. The calculator includes a special button for passing Go which automatically grants a player $2 Monopoly. Pressing the amount owed and then M for Millions or K for thousands, debit or credits the card. After the transaction, the calculator makes a sound to alert you that it is done and your new balance(s) will appear.

It’s not a bad idea but while one person is the button-pressing banker, the other sits around and.. waits. Regular Monopoly money ensures that everyone is involved with the fees and payments. My husband quickly tired of the game while it seemed I was the only one really involved. Another setback is that you don’t have your money right in front of you to take stock of your funds. You have to ask the banker to check it which happened a lot and quickly becomes a bit of a hassle.

One other thing is that this limits how the game is played. Although we played mostly by the rules, I usually don’t. For instance, Chance and Community Chest payments went into the middle and whoever landed on Free Parking won these amounts. There’s no fun way to do this with electronic versions of Monopoly. It’s a shame because most of the computer and video game versions of Monopoly allow you to edit the settings so you can still do this.

Also, the banking unit requires 2 AA batteries which are not included and the battery compartment needs to be unscrewed in order to insert them. If you bought this game for a party and didn’t have a screw driver around, you’d likely be a little store.

Still, these bumps in the road pale when the game really starts heating up – after properties and buildings are purchased. I think this is really a reflection of the game in general which is much less exciting when you’re still acquiring property. When buying and paying in the millions of dollars, the stakes seem much higher than previous versions of Monopoly. I tihnk your adrenaline gets going quite a bit.

When you start adding houses, players seem to quickly go bankrupt which might make this game a little bit shorter than other versions. The house and hotel units are all very interesting. Houses and hotels come in sets of representing a typical house or hotel of each of the continents (except Antarctica) with a total of 12 hotels and 32 houses. You can read more information about the houses, hotels and movers in the back of the instruction booklet which divides them into section by continent as well.

I’m fairly certain other versions include rules that say the game ends when one person goes bankrupt and that the winner is the player with the highest holdings left. Here and Now World edition states that the game ends when only 1 person is left. Although the banking unit makes a sound if you attempt to pay more than you own, I’m not sure if it does so when a person’s card is debited to 0 balance because we simply packed up the game when it was obvious I wasn’t going to muster up $9 million.

The included booklet gives suggestions for a quicker game and also a wall to play Speedy Monopoly. There’s also a page dedicated to the destinations which made the game, including properties and decorative spaces on the board. All in all, there are 70 locations which are mentioned in some form on the board.

Overall, the game play is similar to the Monopoly we all love. Whether or not you enjoy Here and Now World edition pretty much depends on how well you like electronic banking. As banker, I had more fun pressing buttons and listening to the sounds of the banking unit while my husband was bored. However, there were some times where waiting for the unit seemed to take more time than it needed to.

I imagine this might be better with regular cash or an improved electronic system. Maybe if the cards had an electronic area to display the actual amount but the banking unit is pretty primitive as far as electronics go. Also, I know some people have had problems with the banking unit not working correctly which could certainly ruin a game. I applaud Hasbro’s initiative but electronic banking has a long way to go before I love it more than traditional Monopoly.

Still, for what it’s worth, I enjoyed Monopoly Here and Now: World Edition. The pieces which reflect different locations definitely redeem any of the frustrating aspects of this version, in my mind, and I feel that the overall focus of this game is on the world aspect, not electronic banking.

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